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Middle east

Hamas declares ceasefire, gives Israel a week to withdraw

Latest update : 2009-01-18

Hamas and its allies have announced an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, giving the Israeli Defence Forces one week to pull out. However, two rockets fired from Gaza hit Israeli towns hours later without causing casualties, police said.

AFP - Mussa Abu Marzuq, the exiled number two of the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza, announced a one-week truce to allow Israeli troops to withdraw, in a speech on Syrian state television.

"The Israeli enemy has failed in its bid to impose conditions. We in the Palestinian resistance movements announce a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and demand that enemy forces withdraw in a week and open all the border crossings to permit the entry of humanitarian aid and basic goods," Abu Marzuq said.

"We are ready to accept all efforts, particularly those of the Egyptians, Turks, Syrians and Qataris, to reach an agreement that meets our known demands, namely the lifting once and for all of the blockade and the opening of all the crossing points, including the Rafah crossing" between Gaza and Egypt.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the Jewish state does "not negotiate with Hamas. Hamas is not a partner.

"Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire of offensive activities against Hamas. If Hamas does not attack Israel and does not provoke Israel, we will honour the ceasefire."

Regev declined to say when or if Israel planned to open Gaza border crossings, which it has largely kept closed ever since Hamas seized power in the enclave in June 2007.

Date created : 2009-01-18